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© UNICEF Pacific/2016/Savu
Mr. Andrew To'oimoana, Director of Information with his welcoming speech. — at Fa'onelua Convention Centre.

NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA. 24 October 2016 – UNICEF Representative for the Pacific Island Countries, Mr. Sheldon Yett, who is on his first visit to the Kingdom of Tonga, was welcomed today by high level government officials, church leaders and partners at the United Nations Day event and launch of Cyber Safety week held at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre this morning.

Today (24 October) marks 71 years of the United Nations existence and this year also marks Tonga’s celebration of its 17 years as a member of the UN.  Mr. Yett said in his remarks this morning, “I am truly humbled by the welcome I have received since arriving into the Kingdom of Tonga on Saturday. I am excited to be here for UN Day today especially with the theme being “unite for children” which is UNICEF’s mandate. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to officially thank the government, partners and people of Tonga for their commitment to the principles underlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for the investments made for the children of this country, and for their partnership with the United Nations.”

Mr. Yett. added that, while there is still much work to do, he looks forward to working very closely with the Government of Tonga, church groups like the Tongan National Church Leaders Forum (TNCLF), civil society organizations, schools, teachers, parents and caregivers and especially with young people in the years to come.

The chief guest for today’s UN Day event and launch of the Cyberbullying Week was the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Environment, Energy, Climate Change, Disaster Management, Meteorology, Information and Communications, Honourable Siaosi Sovaleni. He acknowledged the work of the United Nations in Tonga and thanked the UN for its support to the Government of Tonga and its commitment towards the people of Tonga.

In his key note address, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni said, “In addition to the development work that the UN has been doing, the Government of Tonga thanks the UN for its continued support to our people.” Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni also launched this week’s Cyber Safety programme and today officially launched the new website “Stop. Think. Connect.” which is part of a larger international initiative on cyber safety.

During Mr. Yett’s visit in the country, he will participate in visits with school children, including children living with disabilities in Tonga, visit health centres and meet with key government counterparts, donor partners and representatives from civil society.

Mr. Yett also attended a special dedicated church service for UN Day and Cyber Safety week. The service was held on Sunday at the Centenary Church of the Free Wesleyan Church (FWC) of Tonga in Nuku’alofa. The official service was attended by His Majesty King Tupou VI and Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau'u, the President of FWC, Reverend Dr. ‘Ahio, high level government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and development partners. 

Mr. Yett is a United States citizen and was appointed to the position of the UNICEF Pacific Representative in August.  He holds a Masters in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from Reed College. 


For more information, please contact:

Vika Waradi, Communication Officer on phone (676) 7715892 or email

About UNICEF:   

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:



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